What's the Best Way to Build a Fire in a Fireplace?

There are few things better on a cold day than sitting next to a crackling fire, enjoying a good book and a hot drink. Starting that fire, however, can be more of a challenge. Is your chimney secure? Is the damper open? Just how do you stack those logs in a way that maximizes the fire's warmth but also in a way that keeps it roaring for a while?

The video above provides a step-by-step process for building a fire in a fireplace, including checking the damper and priming the flue. It also recommends a couple of other things you might not have thought of, including turning off the furnace and opening a window a little bit since fires like oxygen to keep themselves burning bright.

Of course, one of the biggest questions when building your fire is what, exactly, to put in your fireplace and the best way to organize those materials. This video recommends newspaper, kindling and (naturally) firewood. Some folks aren't fans of newspaper, but most everyone from Martha Stewart to Bob Villa recommends a little bit of newspaper to get the fire up and burning.

After you've settled on the materials, it's time to organize them in the hearth. The video recommends the upside-down method where the biggest logs make up the base and the newspaper and kindling rest on top. The idea behind this approach is that embers will drop onto the logs below, allowing the fire to burn a bit longer. The other upside to the upside-down method is that it creates more upward draft for the fire, and as noted before, fire likes the extra air.

Other approaches — like flipping the upside-down method and placing the kindling on the bottom, or the log cabin method where the large logs form a square around the propped up kindling — will work just as well, so find the one that works best at your house to keep you toasty on a chilly night. And if you need any tips on how to properly stack firewood, check out the video below: